If you were to believe the music press, the only thing in music that’s hot these days is hip hop. While that may be true when it comes to the charts, rock is far from dead when it comes to the concert circuit, and in fact clobbers most other music genres in terms of ticket sales.
Hip-hop and R&B is indeed America’s most popular genre and accounts for 38% of on-demand audio streams in the U.S. these days versus 20% for rock. It’s a different story when it comes to concerts however, as a Billboard ranking found that there were 3 times as many rock as hip hop acts in the top 50 highest paid music acts, and touring accounted for 80% of their total revenue.
Of the $5 billion in revenue generated from touring last year by the top 100 acts worldwide, rock accounted for 55% compared with just 11% for hip hop and R&B (which are considered the same category, fairly or not), according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from Pollstar. In fact, the only two R&B/hip hop acts to break the top 25 global touring acts were Bruno Mars and the Weeknd.
But why the disparity? It turns out there are a few reasons for rock’s continued dominance of the concert hall. For one, the genre had a huge head start and has generated a huge fanbase as a result. In fact, many rock fans now consider a trip to see their favorite artist as a yearly event akin to a vacation or holiday. Second, there are far fewer giant hip hop/R&B tours even by older stars of the genre. This may be because of demand or the fact that the acts aren’t as accustomed to touring on a large scale. Finally, hip hop is more popular with a younger audience that doesn’t necessarily have the financial ability to pay what many consider inflated ticket prices. Touring has turned into a big business and not every artist can break into the upper reaches of top money makers.
The worry of the live music industry is what will happen when the rock legends like The Stones and Paul McCartney no longer tour. Who will be there to take their place? People crave live music and nature abhors a vacuum, so it won’t be long until the gap is filled with new talent bringing in the same big money. Only the faces will be different.